Monthly Archives: January 2016

Parents: Here’s how to stop the worst of social media

As the mom of two girls, ages 7 and 9, there are countless reasons why I'm freaking out about the teen years. But topping that list, at the moment, is the thought of parenting in the social media age. My kids won't be allowed to have smartphones until middle school at the earliest, but once the genie is out of the bottle, how will I possibly be able to keep tabs on everything they're doing on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and all the other yet-to-be created social networks? Short answer: I won't. But the findings of a new "CNN Special Report: #Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens," shows why we parents should try to do a much better job of understanding what's happening online. ( The documentary, #Being13, airs at 9 p.m. ET...

Why some 13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day

(CNN)"I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It's really bad," said Gia, a13-year-old. "I literally feel like I'm going to die." "When I get my phone taken away, I feel kind of naked," said Kyla, another 13-year-old. "I do feel kind of empty without my phone." Both participated in "#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens," a first-of-its-kind CNN study on social media and teens. More than 200 eighth graders from across the country allowed their social media feeds to be studied by child development experts who partnered with CNN. This is the first large scale study to analyze what kids actually say to each other on social media and why it matters so deeply to them. "I think they're addicted to the peer connection and affirmation they're able...

U.S. Sexting Laws and Regulations

State  Laws  Overview

The severity of a child’s action in terms of sexting is not always fully understood by both the children involved or their parents, but all 50 states have some type of legal enforcement. While most parents understand that a child caught with sexually explicit images on their phone is criminal, the severity of the charges that could be assessed against the child can be sobering. For example, in states that have not specifically addressed sexting, it is very possible that the state will defer to its child pornography laws to address the action. As such, parents and their children need to begin to appreciate the following: Possession of a sexually explicit image of a minor is a crime in and of itself. Distribution (sending a...

Don’t Text While Parenting — It Will Make You Cranky

A new study from Boston Medical Center reveals that parents who get absorbed by email, games or other apps have more negative interactions with their children, making them feel like they're competing for attention with their parents' gadgets. It’s hard to avoid the lure of the smartphone — so many apps! — and if you’re a parent with rambunctious kids, you may not want to. But a fascinating study of the dynamic between parents, kids and smartphones paints a sobering picture of what the devices are doing to the parent-child relationship. Dr. Jenny Radesky, a fellow in developmental-and-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, specializes in counseling parents about developmental and behavioral issues with their children. So she was naturally curious about how the ubiquity of smartphones, and their distracting allure, might affect the quality...

Flinch is a new app that lets strangers challenge each other to staring contests

Flinch is a new iPhone app that brings the awkward childhood game, staring contests, to mobile devices. It launched last July and an updated version was released a few weeks ago. Reminisicent of Chatroulette, a once-popular video chat app, Flinch uses video conferencing to randomly pair up users. It accomplishes this via an iteration of ooVoo's intelligent video platform. The first to smile, laugh or "flinch," loses. The app uses facial recognition software to tell who breaks their serious face first. Already, the app is having some issues with inappropriate or dangerous content. People have streamed alarming things. There have also been reviews citing verbal abuse and indecent exposure by users of the app on Twitter. Toni Bridsong, a Family Safety Evangelist at Intel Security, wrote about her Flinch reservations in an April 7 blog post. Bridsong...

Is your teen using apps to keep secrets?

if you think "my teen would never sext," you might be mistaken. And if you think the only teens who sext are the ones engaging in high-risk behaviors, like drinking, using drugs or skipping school, keep reading. Studies suggest that sexting is more common than many parents might realize or want to admit. More than half the undergraduate students who took part in an anonymous online survey said they sent sexually suggestive texts when they were teenagers, according to the study by Drexel University, which was published last year by the Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy. Nearly 30% said they included photos in their sexts, and an astonishing 61% did not know that sending nude photos via text could be considered child pornography. Another study, this one by the University of Texas Medical Branch at...

Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling

During a brief recess in an honors course at Eastern Michigan University last fall, a teaching assistant approached the class’s three female professors. “I think you need to see this,” she said, tapping the icon of a furry yak on her iPhone. The app opened, and the assistant began scrolling through the feed. While the professors had been lecturing about post-apocalyptic culture, some of the 230 or so freshmen in the auditorium had been having a separate conversation about them on a social media site called Yik Yak. There were dozens of posts, most demeaning, many using crude, sexually explicit language and imagery. After class, one of the professors, Margaret Crouch, sent off a flurry of emails — with screenshots of some of the worst messages attached — to various university officials, urging them...

Teen tracking apps: Good parenting or risky?

A public service announcement used to run at the top of the evening news: "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" Well, it's 2014, and with smartphone technology it's possible to track your children all the time. A number of parental tracking apps and services exist for monitoring teen activity on smartphones: MamaBear, Life360, Canary and My Mobile Watchdog, to name a few. Some parents say using these services is a sign of good parenting, yet psychologists and privacy experts warn that there are pros and cons, and parents should weigh them before signing up. One of those services, called TeenSafe, allows parents to monitor their children's location, social media activity, text messages and call log. There are more than 500,000 users, according to Ameeta Jain, a TeenSafe co-founder. "As...

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In this age of social media you cannot inform yourself enough on the apps and dangers that are present. We will continue to update this site with current information, events & new apps that come out. Please check back frequently.

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In this age of social media you cannot inform yourself enough on the apps and dangers that are present. We will continue to update this site with current information, events & new apps that come out. Please check back frequently.

Teens and Sexting – Who’s Business Is It Anyway?

A couple of weeks ago, local news stations reported that a group of middle school girls from a local town sent topless photos of themselves to another student who then sold the pictures and posted them online. It’s bad enough that schools get involved in these private matters but now the media? Do you remember Anthony Weiner, the congressman who became infamous because of his sexting scandal last year? His face, and ahem…naked parts, were plastered online and flashed on every news program in the country. I can remember feeling uncomfortable watching the news around that time with my daughters in the room. I mean, no teenage girl should have to see that, right? Thing is, they probably knew more about sexting that I did. We've since had a few discussions about...

The Key to Digital Teen Safety: Parental Engagement

Last week, I spoke with Tim Woda, the co-founder of uknowKids.com, looking for his advice on how to keep children safe growing up in the digital age. We also spoke about parent engagement, getting parents to understand that it's okay to monitor their children's online conversations with friends. Our parents did it. We can as well. Woda: There is a misconception amongst parents -- they confuse being aware with being engaged. Ten years ago, being aware was often enough to keep our kids safe online. Today, that's not enough. I hear things from parents like, "I wouldn't want to monitor my child's Facebook account because that's a violation of their privacy." When you take a step back, you have to ask yourself, is that really a private environment? You're posting on the Web...

Underage Teens Are Using Hookup App Tinder; Should Parents Be Worried?

Earlier this week, a concerned blogger raised the alarm about a troubling statistic: It seems a surprising number of users on the popular dating app Tinder are under the age of 18. "While there are plenty of twenty-, thirty- and forty-somethings on the app, there has been a reported rise of teenagers using the app," wrote Samantha Escobar for lifestyle blog YourTango.com. "In fact, 7 percent of users are between 13 and 17, and that's ... uncomfortable, to say the least." Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen disclosed this stat in February during a conversation with The Guardian about the app's changing demographics. "Early on, over 90 percent of our user base was aged between 18 and 24," Mateen said. "Today, that number is about 51 percent. 13-17 year-olds are now over 7 percent, 25-32 year-olds...

Stories of 7 Teen Suicides Because of Ask.fm Bullying

Bullying does not just take place in school or at any physical place. Unfortunately, there is what is known as cyber bullying. Although this happens with just the computer monitor or a device in front, it is as cruel as any other type of bullying. Some may say that this is not even serious, but cyber bullying can damage a person emotionally and mentally for a long time. What is even worse is that, this can result to suicide. Learn the stories of ask.fm bullying related suicides. Take for instance the unfortunate events with Ask.fm Bullying related suicides where seven young people ended their life because of social media bullying. Ask.fm Suicide Stories #1 A 14-year old girl was found hanged in her bedroom after receiving hate messages on her ask.fm page where they...

Teens Sleeping with Cell Phones: A Clear and Present Danger

You may already know that many teens sleep with their cell phone on or near the bed. As an adult, you yourself may sleep with your cell phone and see no problem with this behavior. A closer look at the reasons that 4 out of 5 teens sleep with their phone, however, gives cause for concern. While for some teens, the night use of the phone is as a clock or alarm, for most the phone is on all night to connect with peers. This “on call” status can reflect obligation, anxious need, and even addiction. It jeopardizes physical, emotional and cognitive functioning and limits domains of influence and connection.

Obligation

The peer pressure “to be available” used to mean hanging out after school. It takes on different proportions when it means being available 24/7. Teens...

Tired teens need limits on electronics

It’s a fact that a good night’s sleep is essential to optimal performance, no matter the task. It is also a fact that America’s teens, generally speaking, don’t get enough sleep. Ergo, American teens, as a group, underperform in school. In consideration of the above, a movement has arisen to extend school start times to at least 8:30 a.m. I think the well-meaning folks behind this movement are missing the point. The problem, it seems to me, is not when the school day begins. The problem is teens whose parents let them stay up until all hours of the night playing video games, texting, talking on their cellphones, watching television, surfing the Internet and listening to music on headphones. These teens, as has been known for some time now, aren’t getting enough sleep. Bedtime...

To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love

Dear Gregory Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come. 1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the...

How to prevent teenagers from sexting and protect them from other teens who do

With the ubiquity of ever more powerful cell phones, sexting has become an increasing concern for the parents of teenagers and preteens. This article describes how you can protect your child from the dangers of sexting, an activity that has major implications for long-term internet reputation and electronic privacy. Sexting refers to sharing nude or near nude pictures, usually via a mobile phone. Most experts distinguish between sending naked photos, an activity with serious privacy, health and legal implications, and simply sending suggestive text messages, which is less harmful. Understand why teenagers engage in sexting According to two surveys conducted in 2005 and 2009, approximately one in ten American teenagers have sent sexts (sexual teext meassages), and approximately one in three have received them. Some of the major reasons teenagers send sexually explicit photos include the...

Parents May Be Liable for What Their Kids Post on Facebook, Court Rules

Parents can be held liable for what their kids post on Facebook FB -4.63%, a Georgia appellate court ruled in a decision that lawyers said marked a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility over their children’s online activity. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate. The trouble started in 2011 when, with the help of another student, the boy constructed a Facebook profile pretending to be the girl. He used a “Fat Face” app to make her look obese and posted profane and sexually explicit comments on the page depicting her as racist and promiscuous, according to court documents. When the girl found out about it,...

Stop underrating America’s youth

The news media like to characterize today's young people as risk averse, narcissistic, app-dependent, over-scheduled, entitled and "pornified." Among the culprits are too much praise, not enough challenge, helicopter parents, cellphones and, of course, the Internet. But by many measures, young people are actually showing virtues their elders lacked. They have brought levels of delinquency, truancy, promiscuity, alcohol abuse and suicide down to levels unseen in many cases since the 1950s. Rather than coming up with ever more old-fogey complaints, we should be toasting young people's good judgment and self-control - and extolling their parents and teachers. Here are some of the most impressive developments. You've probably heard that crime is down. But most of the remarkable facts about crime and delinquency among young people have not been trumpeted enough in a country just...